In a previous post, I talked about how I’m learning all I can about the art of screenwriting. As part of my learning process, I have entered my screenplay, “Dear Boy,” in a screenwriting competition that I am totally loving, so I thought I’d share a little bit about it.
Throughout this journey, I have learned that reading screenplays is a great way to learn about writing them. I have also learned that it is very easy to find a free pdf of just about any movie script. Also, I’ve read in several posts that beginners (like myself) are encouraged to enter contests. They say it’s the best way to cut your proverbial teeth. And if you happen to place in any of them, you can add that to your Writer’s Resume.
So, I looked into it …
I decided to enter the Finish Line competition for several reasons, but mostly, because of the way that the contest is structured. It’s different from every other competition out there because they GIVE YOU NOTES! Literally, a genuine script consultant reads your entire screenplay and then provides you with their thoughts on improvements, questions about plot points, characters, even formatting errors!
Then, you read through their notes, and rewrite (implementing whichever changes you want) and then you get to RESUBMIT your improved draft!
Here’s a snippet from their About page:
With the guidance of a seasoned script consultant, you can work on your rewrites AFTER submitting your script to the competition and then, after reviewing their notes, RESUBMIT your script to us, having improved your draft and thus bettering your chances to WIN!
Our screenplay consultants will provide comprehensive development notes (5-6 pages) on your screenplay or pilot, for as many drafts as you choose, focusing on the fact that the STORY and WRITER are KING.
Below is a snippet of some of the utterly awesome notes on my entry, Dear Boy:
Set in the early 1900’s, the script feels original and complex, incorporating modern themes with a well-researched, solidly crafted period-piece world.
The writer has done an excellent job creating very well-rounded, emotional and complex characters. SAM especially, a child through the script though at various ages, is both wise and age-appropriate…
It’s always nice to learn that someone likes your writing, but we all know that CRITICISM is key to improving. That’s the whole purpose of this competition! So, here’s a snippet of the tougher stuff:
… the writer will want to make an effort to re-read the script and fix the smattering of sentences that are either missing words, use the wrong name, or trail off. The formatting of the fight scene too, could use a pass, for instance making sure to capitalize the action words to help the scene read easier…
The writer ought to research and revise the formatting of any parentheticals used during dialogue, such as the moment at the top of page 10.
The description of DOCTOR MACCLAREN on page 12, while very beautifully written, is confusing to understand. How are his features shifting between night and day? Does the writer mean that he has both soft and more pointed features? This section might benefit from some simpler explanation.
Samuel changes between being 4 years old, then 5 years old, then back to 4 years old on page 14. Please revise as necessary.
Needless to say, I took EVERY SINGLE note to heart. I did reread my screenplay. Several times. Then, I gave the climactic fight scene another pass, and I found a way to work-in some important character information and I think my story was MUCH better for it.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with this contest, but it was SO worth the price of the entry fee ($100) to get 6 FULL PAGES of notes from a writer with much more experience than I have.